Kimjang stands for “making a large quantity of kimchi in preparation for winter.” Koreans usually do kimjang in November and December. That is because vegetables such as napa cabbage and radish, which are the main ingredients of kimchi, later freeze in the cold weather and lose their taste. In the past, when Koreans used to have large families, neighbors used to gather together to make kimchi, so the community collectively prepared for the winter. UNESCO felt that such collective culinary activity was worth safeguarding and put the kimjang custom on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Today, the traditional extended family has given way to nuclear families and single-person households, and it is not easy for people to get together for kimjang. Nevertheless, many households still make kimchi around this time of the year. In this issue, Korea AgraFood will introduce you to some places where you can try making kimchi, the soul food of Koreans.
○ Museum Kimchikan
Musem Kimchikan, located in Insa-dong, Seoul, was established in 1986 to conduct research and promote kimchi culture. There you can find a lot of information on the origin and history of kimchi, the kimjang practice in the modern age, and kimchi’s nutrition and health benefits such as probiotics. The museum offers audio guides in English, Chinese, and Japanese. The opening hours are from 10:00 to 18:00 and the admission is KRW 3,000 for preschool children, KRW 4,000 for youth, and KRW 5,000 for adults. Groups of more than 20 can get a KRW 1,000 discount.
The museum conducts kimchi-making events at Kimjang-maru. There are cooking classes for napa cabbage kimchi and white kimchi, lasting 40 min. each. The participation fee is KRW 20,000. Foreign visitors are invited to join the napa cabbage kimchi class on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (11:20–12:00) and the white kimchi class on Thursdays and Saturdays (13:50–14:30).
Reservations and Inquiries +82-2-2223-2573
○ Yangpyeong Nadri Agricultural Cooperative
If you wish to experience kimjang in the Korean countryside, we recommend visiting Yangpyeong County, which is close to Seoul. Sixteen villages belonging to Yangpyeong Nadri Agricultural Cooperative host kimchi-making events from the beginning of the kimjang season in November. You will be able to experience the entire process of making kimchi, from salting cabbages and shredding radishes to stuffing the cabbages with kimchi seasonings, and you can take home the kimchi you have made.
In addition to the kimjang event, each village runs its own cultural experience program, such as pounding rice cake with a mallet, packing eggs in rice straw, riding a tractor carriage, making rice cake, baking sweet potatoes, making and flying kites, and playing traditional Korean games.
After finishing kimjang, you can get boiled pork for lunch, a seasonal delicacy that goes well with kimchi. The participation fees vary from KRW 19,000 to 40,000 depending on the village and type of program.
Reservations and Inquiries +82-31-774-5427~5431
○ Interviews with Foreigners about Their Kimjang Experience
Many foreigners participated in the third annual Seoul Kimchi Festival held in Seoul Square on November 4 to experience kimjang. Here are their thoughts on kimchi and their kimjang experience.
▲ Malia Laura (Italy)
Malia Laura, who studies Korean at the International Language Institute of Hanyang University, applied for the event on Facebook.
We don’t have collective cooking culture like kimjang in Italy. I participated in this event because I wanted to share the kimchi recipe with my family and friends in Italy. I’ll make kimchi with my family members when I go back to Italy, using the recipe that I learned today.
▲ Dinh Hu Chinh (Vietnam)
It has been about eight months since I came to Korea. I learned about kimchi and kimjang culture from books when I was in Vietnam. I was quite nervous about participating in a kimjang event at first because all my knowledge of it was from what I read. But I didn’t have any problem; it was actually easier than I thought. I want to do kimjang again if there are other events like this.
▲ Harsnain Raza (23, Pakistan) and Tariq Islam (33, Pakistan)
We have many spicy dishes like kimchi in Pakistan. That is why I like kimchi the most among Korean dishes. I looked forward to this festival and was excited to make kimchi by myself. I came to Korea to study architecture and computer science but I’ve been missing home quite a lot. This event somewhat relieved my homesickness as I was making kimchi here with my friend.
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